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Mertensia ciliata (James ex Torr.) G. Don
Tall Fringed Bluebells, Tall Fringe Bluebells, Mountain Bluebells
Boraginaceae (Borage Family)
USDA Symbol: MECI3
USDA Native Status: L48 (N)
Several 1-3 ft. stems emerge in a clump from the woody root of Tall Fringe Bluebells or Mountain Bluebells. Smooth, succulent leaves are crowded along these stems. A plant with clumps of leafy stems and loose clusters of narrowly bell-shaped, blue flowers turning pink with age. Pendent clusters of clear blue, tubular flowers exude a mild fragrance. Root crowns and rhizomes spread over time, forming extensive patches.
Mertensias are also called Lungworts, after a European species with spotted leaves which was believed to be a remedy for lung disease. Similar species differ in the proportions of the corolla.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Size Notes: Up to about 3 feet tall.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Blue
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug
DistributionUSA: AZ , CA , CO , ID , MT , NM , NV , OR , SD , UT , WY
Native Distribution: CO & extreme n. NM to CA Sierras, n. to w. MT & s.e. WA
Native Habitat: Stream banks; wet meadows; damp thickets
Growing ConditionsWater Use: High
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Moist to wet loams & sandy loams.
Conditions Comments: Good air circulation is necessary to prevent mildew diseases.
BenefitConspicuous Flowers: yes
PropagationDescription: Divide rhizomes in the spring. It is also possible to propagate this plant from seed.
Seed Treatment: Seed scarification enhances germination. Rub between sheets of medium-grit sandpaper.
Commercially Avail: yes
Find Seed or Plants
Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
Web ReferenceWebref 30 - Calflora (2018) Calflora
Webref 74 - Southwest Colorado Wildflowers (2020) Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Mertensia ciliata in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Mertensia ciliata in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Mertensia ciliata
MetadataRecord Modified: 2023-02-20
Research By: TWC Staff